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Mackage creators talk Canadian cool, new Vancouver shop — and, yes, Meghan Markle


Mackage co-founders from left, Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan. Photograph by: Stephanie Chriqui , Vancouver Sun

What do you think of when you hear the word Mackage? If you immediately responded with “leather jackets” you’re likely not alone. 

“Before, you would get Mackage at a store like Aritzia,” Elisa Dahan, co-founder of the brand, says. “But Aritzia only has our leather jackets, so that provides a very specific perception of what the brand is.”

With the opening of the brand’s first retail store in Vancouver, a 1,325-square-foot shop located in Pacific Centre, Dahan hopes to provide shoppers with a broader insight into what the Montreal-based brand is really all about. (Hint: it’s about much more than just leather.)

So, what should we be thinking of when we hear the word Mackage?

“Basically, we are your last layer — we are a fashion coat brand,” Eran Elfassy, the other half of the Mackage founding team, says. “We started as leather, but now we do everything from trench coats to wool coats to down coats.” 

According to the stylish duo — who both showed up to the Vancouver store opening wearing their own lived-in and well-loved leather toppers from their own line — great style comes down to three elements: a great jacket, killer shoes and a fabulous handbag. 

To date, they create designs that cover two of the aforementioned three categories. But, while the brand has expanded to include luxe leather handbags and other assorted accessories, as well as an edited ready-to-wear offering, in recent years, the founders say creating fashionable outerwear that features functional elements remains their main focus. 

“The last layer is the finishing touch. Your last layer has to be as perfect as everything that you thought of wearing under,” Dahan says. “And that’s our focus.” 

“We’re not just fashion, we’re also very technical in our jackets,” Elfassy adds. 

To summarize, their mission is to shake up the way shoppers think about outerwear that features “technical” functions. 

“I often say that, if you were to hear our coats described while you closed your eyes, you would expect a technical coat,” Dahan adds. “But, then, you’d open your eyes and find that it’s a real fashion piece that I would be proud to wear and not want to run to the coat check to take off.” 

Their jackets have features such as water repellent and waterproof exteriors, Nano Down for increased warmth and durability and “self-warming” pockets. Mackage also uses fur, leather and down from traceable sources. 

“It should be important to everybody,” Dahan says when asked about the brand’s commitment to ethical sourcing. 

“You could buy anything from anywhere,” Elfassy says of the fur, down and leather materials. “But there are people who do care how you get it. And we make sure that we buy it from the right associations.” 

Speaking with the pair, one gets the sense the Mackage creators truly care about every element of their brand. And that, at the most basic level, they’re as much designing their collections of coats for themselves as they are for their now-worldwide consumer base.  

“We are actually the true testers,” Dahan confirms with a laugh. “We’re not just designing it. I think a lot of what we’ve done in the past was based on us being the consumer. Even when we started as a leather company, 20 years ago, there were no contemporary leather jackets.

“It was really because we wanted one.”

That desire to create coats they found missing from their own wardrobes is what also eventually led the designers to expand their offering to parkas, wool coats, and handbags. 

“It’s like, what do you wish you were wearing? What do you feel is missing?” Dahan says. “It’s very easy to make a nice, warm winter coat that’s big and bulky and makes you look like you have no style … It’s always a question of how you feel.”

The duo says their Canadian connection has also helped to build their brand on a global scale. 

“We live in Canada where you can have three seasons in one day,” Elfassy says with a laugh. “You can leave in the morning and it’s sunny, then in the afternoon it’s raining and then at night — you’re freezing.” 

“We’re used to that.”  

He says being exposed to the unpredictable Canadian elements — and designing outerwear for those mercurial shifts — has attracted a loyal customer base both domestically, and beyond. 

“There are a lot of cool jackets out there that look great but have zero functionality,” Elfassy says. “That’s why a lot of European — and other people — want to buy Canadian coats. They know we know how to build good products.”

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